Guest Post: Perseverance in Publishing


by Mike LynchMike - Author Photo Small

It’s been said everyone has at least one book in them. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I would venture to guess that most people have wondered at one time or another if they had it within them to write the Great American Novel. I was no exception.

Mind you, my first inkling came in 1981 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old who hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with his life. Despite this seeming setback, I pulled out my trusty typewriter and began pounding away on an epic science fiction tale of sacrifice, betrayal, and one man’s desperate fight to rescue humanity from a malevolent alien race.

After months of diligent work, I did it. I had written a novel. However, as I read through the manuscript, I discovered a mountain of spelling errors, cardboard characters, and disheveled plot elements. To put it plainly, my manuscript was a mess. The thought of revising the story felt so overwhelming that I promptly shelved it and moved on with my life, or so I thought.

As the years passed I couldn’t get the story out of my head, so I took another crack at it, this time on my newly acquired Macintosh computer. I dusted off my manuscript and set about fixing all my novel’s previously stated problems. Eight years came and went before a passable story finally emerged. Now, I believed, my book was ready. Or so I thought.

When the Sky Fell coverI did what all hopeful writers do to get the ball rolling, I wrote a manuscript proposal and sent it to every publisher and agent I thought might be remotely interested in my novel. It didn’t take long for the rejection letters to appear in my mailbox. Undaunted, I sent out another batch of proposals. Sadly, the results were the same—they all passed on my novel. When I heard about a local writer’s conference in 2005, I gave that a try, hoping face-to-face meetings with acquisition editors and literary agents might change my luck. They weren’t interested either. I went to the same conference the following year, but with the same results.

With no more prospects to pursue, I seriously contemplated giving up writing. I tried my best, given it two solid years of sending out multiple proposals, but I figured I just didn’t have what it took to be a writer. As I was about to shelve my manuscript for good, I thought I would give it one last try, and contacted an author I had recently met on the Internet—Brandon Barr.

Like me, he had a strong interest in science fiction. We also had similar goals as writers, and our writing styles were compatible with each other’s. On paper it seemed like a good match, and so I made a deal with him. If he agreed to re-edit the entire novel, I would make him a co-author.

Fast-forward six months, and we were finally ready to send out the newly-edited version of the story. Like before, it didn’t take long for the rejection letters started pouring in. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. Even with the help of another writer, it still wasn’t happening, until one day in December 2006 when an envelope arrived in the mail from Silver Leaf Books. To my utter astonishment, they were interested in our novel. I cannot tell you the feelings that swept over me at that moment, most of it centering on disbelief. I had beaten the odds. I had found a publisher for When the Sky FellAfter the Sky Fell - Front Cover Final copy

As my story attests, finding a publisher is a lengthy, laborious process. To a land a publisher takes a first-time author, on average, six years. Statistics say only one percent of all novelists will ever see their story in print. This is a sobering reality, but it has been this way from the beginning. There will always be far more hopeful novelists than there are publishing houses willing to take a financial risk on them.

For those committed to beating the odds, a strong belief in yourself and your story is absolutely essential. Perseverance is a word you become intimately acquainted with along the way. You have to keep going—no matter how many publishers pass on your work. According to “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul,” Louis L’Amour received 350 rejections before selling his first story, and Jack London received 600. Today, they are respected authors. Why? Because they didn’t give up. In my case, I currently have 7 books published, including my latest novel, After the Sky Fell, along with some novellas and short stories.

If you have a novel lurking in your head somewhere, sit down and write it. Know that rejection letters will come, but stay committed. If you are persistent enough, you just may find that one publisher who loves your novel as much as you do.

Mike Lynch will be appearing at Village House of Books on Saturday, February 28th at 2:00pm to share After the Sky Fell.  Come and meet this prolific and persistent author and learn more about his science fiction universe!


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